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The fire this time: Genaro García Luna in the dock

16 December 2019

Lo importante de que Estados Unidos haya capturado a García Luna no es García Luna, siquiera, sino los baldes de lumbre que caerán hacia arriba, hacia los lados y hasta abajo de García Luna.

(The important thing is that the United States captured García Luna, not García Luna himself. However, the fire that is going to flare up up, down, and all around García Luna.)

Alejandro Páez Varela, in SinEmbargo

That Genaro García Luna, a top cop from the Fox Administration, then Secretary of Public Security, and, arguably, the most powerful figure in the Calderón Administration as chief architect, cheerleader, and commander in the “war on drugs” (or, as it turns out, war on some (inconvenient) drug (exporters) was arrested in the United States for trafficking in “more than five kilograms” of cocaine (as a matter of law, how many more that five doesn’t really matter, but multiply by a number with several zeros to the right might not be excessive) is going to, indeed, “flare up, down, and all around” not just the disgraced General, but scorch not just any number of former (and possibly still active) political and business leaders, but the media, the political parties and, yeah, probably, some of the traditional “cartel” figures as well

How far back García Luna’s “secondary career” of working for (or, at least not against) certain criminal organizations goes isn’t yet clear. His official career in counter-intelligence stretches back to Carlos Salinas’ Administration, when the General worked for CISEN, the now disbanded Mexican intelligence agency. IN 1998, during the Zedillo Administration, he moved to the Preventative Police, and during Fox’s tenure moved to the Judicial Police, then headed the also since disbanded (for being too corrupted) AFI. During Calderón’s tenure, he was, of course, Secretary of Public Security, the face of the “war on drugs”, endlessly featured on television and in the print media, despite well-documented reports of his inexplicable wealth, and the painfully obvious rising body count indicating the so-called war was anything but a success… or even sane.

It’s no wonder he was a media star… the government paid out 231,000,000 pesos to media firms to publicize his, and his “drug warriors” activities. That included financing a television serial centering on the derring-do and exciting lives of fictional anti-narcotics officers (by the way, the show earned some of the lowest ratings in Mexican television history). And… in a particularly bizarre attempt to improve his brand, re-enacted (with the orignal cast of “perps”) the capture of a kidnapper and his French moll. Both were probably guilty as sin, but the re-enactment threw the entire legal case into limbo, the French media had a field day, and a ruckus in France, leading the the lowest point in Franco-Mexican relations since… oh… the attempt to install Maximilian as Emperor.

That so many in the media either ignored the warning signs that García Luna was openly corrupt, or just unblinkingly accepted payments for positive coverage has left them exposed as incompetent as best, corrupt and untrustworthy at worst. Expect several retirements, or retreats to less and less prestige posts… heck, even a tiny little website like this one isn’t going to take them at their word now.

As to the politicians and the parties.

The Lopez Obrador Administration (which has wanted to both end the drug war, and reform the security apparatus, has been taking full advantage of the situation to order a thorough purge of the police… firing anyone connected with García Luna. It’s understandable that his administration would not want to go after the upper echelons of former administrations, or the opposition parties, lest he be accused of seeking vengeance on his enemies and seen as a dictator. HOWEVER, with the new administration, there has been an important change in the justice system. Where before, the “Attorney General” was the Procurador General, a cabinet officer serving at the pleasure of the President, the nation’s chief prosecutor is now the Fiscal General, appointed by the President and the Senate, with a term overlapping that of the presidency, and not dependent on the Executive branch.

My sense is that the Fiscal leaked information, or made it available to US prosecutors… both to protect the Executive branch from the inevitable backlash of instigating a witch hunt… and to justify likely investigations and probable indictments of very high level former officials. Calderón has been unconvincingly claiming he knew nothing, Fox for once is keeping a low profile, Zedillo is safely (for now) buried in academia, and Carlos Salinas is probably holed up in his lair, boning up on the extradition treaties of various other sunny climes for shady people, As to Peña Neito, it should be noted that Chapo Guzman’s extradition to the United States was during his tenure, but he’s not off the hook, with allegations that holdovers from the previous administrations, as well as those within Peña Neito’s own circle, were also beneficiaries of the largess of various cartels.

And, they’ll burn, burn, burn… in a ring of fire.


Asmann, Parker, “Mexico’s Former Top Security Official Indicted on US Drug Charges” InSight Crime, 11 December 2019

Corruption allegations long dogged ex-Mexico security chief“, Associated Press, 10 December 2019

De Vicente Fox a Felipe Calderón: ¿quiénes ‘tiemblan’ con la detención de Genaro García Luna?” Vanguardia, 10 December 2019

Flores, Linaloe R. “El policía patriota: Genaro García Luna gastó 300 millones en construirse una imagen de héroe“, Eme Equis, 11 December 2019

Medellín, Jorge Alejandro. “La negra espalda de García Luna y el final de una era en el narco,” Eme Equis, 10 December 2019

Páez Varela, Alejandro. “El encargo” SinEmbargo, 16 December 2019

Santiago, Cuauhtécatl. “Calderón dice desconocer las causas de la detención de García Luna“, La Hoguera, 10 Decembger 2019

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